Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy last week chose the new political lobbyist and communications firm Axiom Public Affairs to represent their movement against the state's recreational marijuana legalization initiative.
The ballot measure's final draft was submitted to the Secretary of State's Office in April by the Marijuana Policy Project, which is also leading legal weed efforts for next year in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. Safer Arizona, MPP of Arizona, and other advocacy groups are in the process of gathering the roughly more than 150,000 signatures needed to get the initiative on the 2016 ballot.
The Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy PAC isn't down with any measure that would green light the use, sale, possession and cultivation of ganja. The group mobilizes around the state to raise awareness of the plant's alleged harms, as well as recruits donors and supporters who'll help with the crusade. They fear legalizing weed will mean it'll wound up in the hands of children, among other negative outcomes.
"Unlike the industry and lobby groups that are funding efforts to legalize a dangerous drug in Arizona, we at ARDP are all working on a volunteer basis, so we are delighted to be able hire the A-team of consultants in Arizona to help us out," said a statement by Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.
Among other guidelines, the MPP measure would allow adults 21 and up to buy no more than an ounce of pot through a state-licensed retailer or dispensary. An adult 21 or older would be able to grow six plants and there will be a limit of no more than 12 plants per household. There is a license, worth $7,500, for people who want to sell their pot, without jumping into a full-on dispensary.
The initiative would also establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which would oversee the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and sale of marijuana.
MPP expects taxes, set at 15 percent, to bring revenue of between $60 million and $100 million. The funds would go toward sales regulation, education and public health efforts.
MPP and advocates have until July 2016 to present the requested signatures.
Efforts to get a legal weed initiative on the 2014 ballot failed because proposing groups could not gather enough signatures.
Will Arizona Pass the Grass?
The nonpartisan research group Behavior Research Center says most of the state's residents support the legalization of recreational marijuana, as well as favor university research on the medical benefits of weed for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and epilepsy.
Of the 700 adults interviewed for the Rocky Mountain Poll between the end of April and mid-May, 83 percent said they backed up former UA researcher Sue Sisley's study looking into the effects medical marijuana has on PTSD symptoms. They argued similar studies should be allowed at the three universities.
In the case of recreational weed, more than 50 percent are good with allowing possession of small amounts. The support is stronger in rural Arizona (58 percent) and in Maricopa County (53 percent). The poll said less than half of people in Pima County back up legalization.